4 tips to avoid Christmas co-parenting conflict with the Ex.
Christmas is a funny time of year especially when it comes to co-parenting.
Despite our best intentions the holidays have a way of degenerating into Christmas co-parenting conflict. If we are honest, we all love this time of year, but we also find ourselves getting a little annoyed at those around us. And even more so with the Ex.
Even if things have been going along ok with the Ex, the pressure’s at this time of year as well as working out things such as where the kids will spend Christmas day can quickly degenerate in to WW3. Even with the best of intentions.
So with that in mind, we need to be realistic about the chances of Christmas co-parenting tension and apply a few simple tricks to keep it merry.
So here are some simple little things you can do to head off trouble and avoid becoming the Grinch this Christmas.
1. DON’T TRY TO WING IT.
Don’t presume that you and the your Ex are on the same page about how Christmas will work, and don’t leave the planning to the last minute.
Starting early with a quick phone call or a little check in by text is a good way to start a discussion about how Christmas will work this year. And starting now leaves you some time to work through any disagreements or different ideas.
Even if you have trouble communicating, a carefully worded text is still better than not talking at all, and then expecting it will just work itself out.
Not talking at all is pretty much guaranteed to lead to misunderstandings which are pretty much guaranteed to lead to a fight.
2. BOOK A MEDIATION
Sitting down for a formal chat is a great way to establish some simple rules you can both live with.
Even if you find it really hard to be in the same room as your Ex, let alone trying to negotiate with them, an FDRP Mediator is trained and skilled at cutting through the tension and getting some simple rules laid down.
So it is a great way to get you both on the same page without the whole breaking down in to a big argument.
And it is also worth remembering that even if you have done a mediation in the past, things can start to slip a little and resentments can build up so a little 1 or 2 hour tune-up mediation to get back on track can be really useful.
3. Be prepared for some give and take.
More than at any other time of the year Christmas Co-parenting requires the patience of a saint, and a little give and take.
If you contact your Ex with a list of demands and no intention of backing down it is only going to end up in one place, a massive fight.
The first and most important thing to remember when approaching a Christmas discussion is that a happy Christmas for the kids is most important. The kids getting a chance to see both of you or to at least to have some contact on the day e.g. a skype call is probably the best gift you can give them.
Rather than delivering a list of demands a much better plan is to work out what is most important to you and be prepared to give ground on everything else.
For example, if you have a big family lunch planned and its really important to you that the kids are there you can agree for the kids to stay at your Ex’s on Christmas eve so they can wake up to presents there.
4. Don’t butt heads
If you really find communication impossible or there are existing court orders in place that limit your contact then finding a different way is the best plan.
There are quite a few excellent App’s that are designed for you and your Ex to communicate and keep it positive at the same time.
We have included a link below to a previous post with the 6 we find the best.
Another great tip is don’t respond in the heat of the moment. If you feel yourself getting annoyed or your Ex responds to you in an angry way, take a day. Don’t respond immediately. Give yourself – and your Ex – a day or two to let the anger diffuse a bit and then try again.
That’s why you should start early rather than leaving it to the last minute. If you start to approach your holiday plans now then there is plenty of time to let things cool off if it gets tense and make sure you have a Happy Christmas.
Susan Hewitt is the Principal at Bright Side Family Law, a non-litigious family law and mediation practice. Susan has worked as a lawyer and journalist for almost 30 years. She is an accredited collaborative lawyer and qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner who is committed to helping families through their relationship breakdown in an honest, cooperative and respectful manner.
If you are facing a family law or parenting matter please call, message or email us at BrightSide.